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Newsletter June 2021

Newsletter June 2021 - ABLCC Key Activities

ABLCC Key Activities




Once again this year, having no desire to break with a fine tradition, the Arab-Belgian Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce was honoured to invite their members and friends to an online edition of their annual Arab-Belgian Diplomatic Business Workshop, organized in the margins of the Belgian Diplomatic days and with the support of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Following the success of previous editions, the ABLCC team has worked to organize an online edition to ensure that their members and friends acquire strategic and accurate information from experts on the ground to help them improve their business and keep ahead of the competition. And who better than our Belgian Ambassadors could provide this expertise?

This event which was organized in two different sessions, on 27 April and 04 May 2021, was thus a unique opportunity for the participants to benefit from the insights of BELGIAN AMBASSADORS accredited in Arab countries during two lively interviews focusing on current topics in North Africa, the Middle East, and the GCC.

In the first session, which focused on “Arab Mediterranean countries”, we had the honour to benefit from the expertise and first-hand experience from:

  • H.E. Mr. Alain LEROY - Ambassador to Algeria
  • H.E. Mr. François CORNET d'ELZIUS - Ambassador to Egypt and Sudan
  • H.E. Mr. Hubert COOREMAN - Ambassador to Lebanon
  • H.E. Mr. Marc TRENTESEAU - Ambassador to Morocco and Mauritania
  • H.E. Mr. Christophe de BASSOMPIERRE - Ambassador to Tunisia and Libya

In the second session, which focused on “the Middle East and GCC countries”, we had the honour to benefit from the expertise and first-hand experience from:

  • H.E. Mr. Filip VANDEN BULCKE - Ambassador to Jordan and Iraq
  • H.E. Ms. Dominique MINEUR - Ambassador to the KSA, Oman and Yemen
  • H.E. Mr. Leo PEETERS - Ambassador to Kuwait and Bahrain
  • H.E. Mr. Bart DE GROOF - Ambassador to Qatar
  • H.E. Mr. Peter CLAES - Ambassador to the UAE

These session were moderated respectively by Mr. Nabil JIJAKLI, Deputy CEO, Credendo – Export Credit Agency, and Ms. Evelien STAELENS, Deputy Director for Trade - Middle East, FIT. Thus contributing to more interaction and allowing for a much deeper and personal experience than in conventional speeches.

During these two interactive interviews, the Ambassadors answered very specific questions covering current topics of interest such as the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable economic developments, the various reform/diversification programmes implemented by their country of accreditation, opportunities and challenges for Belgian businesses, promising economic sectors, flagship events, to name but a few.

With this came tremendous wealth of information: Belgian Ambassors offered the participants a complete picture of the current economic situation marked by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as potential synergies to be exploited in favor of enhanced cooperation.

From this, it can be seen that Arab countries prove to be valuable partners both in terms of the advantages and opportunities offered as well as the great number of synergies that exist between Europe, Belgium, and Arab countries. Thus paving the way towards a more cooperative, symbiotic relationship generating positive results and innovation.

As stated by Mr. Qaisar HIJAZIN, Secretary General of the ABLCC, “there are a lot of things that we can do to intensify the relations between Belgium and Arab countries”. Speaking to their Excellencies “as it rises out of your various analysis, we can engage in a large number of interests we have in common!”

In his keynote speech, Mr. Peter HUYGHEBAERT, Director, Middle East & North Africa Department, SPF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, highlighted that Belgium has “ important trade and investment flows with the Arab World with exports amounting to close to 12 billion in 2020 - that is minus 5% but is still reasonable- and imports amounting to 6.5 billion”. Adding that “we are of course eager to return to pre-crisis trade level and further develop these flows. That is the reason why sessions like these are so important.

Talking about the Covid-19 pandemic, it became apparent from the various interventions that The Coronavirus crisis will inevitably have an impact on the dynamics of trade relations as defined before the crisis. Thus reshaping the trade landscape in favour of new partners nearby. Mr. HUYGHEBAERT, quoted Winston Churchill “never let a good crisis go to waste” adding “that is exactly what we are trying to do here “turn these challenges into opportunities”.

The Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce seizes this opportunity to salute the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Ambassadors in this endeavour to bring a new dynamic to economic relations with the MENA region.

In his concluding remark, Dr. Khaled HANAFI, Secretary General of the Union of Arab Chambers, noted that the message is clear, the Arab world holds many opportunities along with great potential! He also underlined the fact that Arab countries started to change in many aspects and that accordingly opportunities are great over there. He added “patterns of business have started to change so I believe it is not wise to keep doing business on the same old way of importing and exporting. We can talk about a strategic alliance between Belgium, in this case, and Arab countries”. He then highlighted the need to capitalize on some areas of competitive advantage in the Belgian economy and business environment such as R&D, the pharmaceutical industry, logistics and supply chain management.

Mr. Qaisar HIJAZIN brought the event to a close by quoting a paragraph from the foreword of HE Sophie WILMÈS, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign affairs, European affairs, Foreign trade and relations with the federal cultural institutions, in the ABLCC business handbook: “As a result of the pandemic, the dynamics of global value chains will inevitably change. As Europe tries to reduce its extreme dependence upon China and strive for greater strategic autonomy, a diversification of sources of supply can be expected. We can anticipate a relocation of certain activities, bringing them as close as possible to our European consumption markets. This could unlock new opportunities for countries closer by. There indeed seems some logic to expand economic activities in our Southern neighborhood rather than in faraway Asia. The wish for shorter supply chains and the geographical proximity and large pool of labor forces and skills creates additional potential for the MENA region as a component manufacturer for Europe’s industry and services sector. Moreover, it is in Europe’s own interest that countries in its immediate vicinity thrive well.”

The great number of registered participants - more than two hundred for both sessions - shows the importance, the great interest, and the necessity for such an event as a wealth of information and to give an impulse to companies through this difficult and sensitive period.



The Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (ABLCC), in close collaboration with Hub.Brussels, and with the support of the Embassy of Jordan in Belgium and the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, organized a high-level webinar “Jordan and Belgium full potential of cooperation” on Wednesday 02 June 2021.

“The event comes at a very important time as Jordan celebrated their 75th independence day a few days ago as well as their centennial this year”
HE Dr. Saja AL-MAJALI, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

With some one hundred registered participants and top-notch keynote speakers, the success of this gathering attests the interest and commitment of both sides to further strengthen their relations.

As a good introduction phase before digging deeper into the subject, the attendees could listen to the inspiring keynote addresses of Belgian and Jordanian guests of honour:

, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, underlined the importance of the relations between Jordan and Belgium evidenced by the recent visit to Belgium of His Majesty King Abdullah, in April 2021.

HE Pascal SMET, Secretary of State responsible for European and International Relations, and Foreign Trade | Brussels-Capital Region, referred to the latest Economic Mission to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which took place in 2018 with 18 participating companies. He added that another Economic Mission is in the pipeline for 2022, which will be preceded by a visit to Jordan of HE Smet in November 2021.

“We also consider Jordan as a real gateway to other countries in the area and we welcome that we have many things in common”
HE Pascal SME, Secretary of State responsible for European and International Relations, and Foreign Trade | Brussels-Capital Region

HE Nael KABARITI, Chairman of the Jordan Chamber Of Commerce and Member of the Jordanian Senate, raised the question of the corona crisis and the current economic damage that ensued; Jordan not being spared. Recalling the positive historical relations between Jordan and Belgium, he then praised an enhanced cooperation between “friendly countries” to curb this crisis.

Then, Acting Chairman of the Jordan Investment Commission (JIC), Fareedon HARTOUQA reviewed the most important investment opportunities and privileges in Jordan; highlighting the Kingdom’s privileged position as a crossroad of trade exchanges at the heart of a consumer market of more than 1.5 billion thanks to several free trade agreements.

“The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is one of those places that is maybe not the destination that first comes to mind but wise businessmen and women must be aware of all the tools available to them as they seek to maximize their chances”
Qaisar HIJAZIN, Secretary General of the ABLCC

We also learned that Jordan’s strategic location has been reinforced with sound economic policies and a vision setting some inspiring targets in key sectors designed to strengthen the economy and ensure that Jordan will become a key market in the MENA region.

Mr. Peter Marji
, Director of Investment and promotion at the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), presented the vision of ASEZA. He then reviewed the Business Climate and the breadth of opportunities they offer and gave thought to how they could work closely with Belgian investors for a mutual benefit.

To bring to an end this inspiring gathering, the precious information and know-how about Jordan business environment and various advantages delivered during the various presentations were supported by two Belgo-Jordanian success stories. Mr. Dani MARJI, General Manager | IZZAT MARJI GROUP and Mr. Thierry CARDINAEL, Business Development Manager | TRACTEBEL ENGINEERING shared on-the-ground realities and best practices.

We can conclude that Jordan is a safe haven of opportunities!

The purpose of this gathering has been completely accomplished as the participants gained valuable insights from field experts, learnt from the success stories of Belgian and Jordanian companies, and took home valuable tools and contacts to move forward and successfully position their business on the Jordanian Market.


John Cockerill


Become a member and join the vibrant business community standing at the helm of Arab-Belgium-Luxembourg trade and investment relations.
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